Renton pastor arrested in court as new accusations surface

Renton pastor arrested in court as new accusations surface »Play Video
Royce Shorter
SEATTLE - A Renton minister and music teacher accused of having sex with a teenage student was arrested on the spot when he showed up for a court hearing Thursday as new accusations surfaced against him.

Royce C. Shorter, charged earlier with child rape and child molestation in connection with a recent attack on a 15-year-old music student, had been free on $25,000 bail.

But he was re-arrested Thursday and his bail was increased to $350,000 after several other potential victims came forward after seeing news reports about the case. They told police they also were assaulted by him.

One of those other victims showed up in the courtroom Thursday and told KOMO News it was "disgusting" that Shorter calls himself a man of God.

"You're stealing children's innocence, and then you're preaching on Sunday - no," Alycia Mitchell says.

She said she was 14 years old when Shorter sexually assaulted her in her mother's home. She says she passed out for a few seconds after he grabbed her from behind. When she woke up, she says, Shorter was on top of her.

Mitchell said Shorter uses his charisma and position as a pastor to lure young girls.

"I was very angry," she says. "I wanted to rip his face apart. However, I also know that he's the scum of the earth, and he's not worth that much energy."

But a number of supporters - including some local pastors - also came to the King County Superior Court hearing and said afterward they believe Shorter is innocent.

During Thursday's hearing, Shorter pleaded not guilty to two counts of third-degree rape and one count of third-degree child molestation before he was booked into King County jail.

It wasn't immediately clear if more charges will be filed against Shorter in connection with other attacks alleged by the additional victims. The statute of limitations has run out for at least some of those cases.

Court records show that Shorter was previously convicted of rape after having sex with a 12-year-old girl. Now he stands accused of forcing himself on a 15-year-old piano student.

According to charging documents, Shorter, 53, operates his own music studio - 'N Time Music Productions - and his own Christian ministry, Royce Clinton Shorter Ministries.

Speaking with detectives, the 15-year-old girl said Shorter started hitting on her during their lessons, then began kissing and groping her.

The girl said Shorter coerced her into having sex at least five times, beginning when she was 15, a Seattle detective said in an earlier court hearing.

"Shorter told her that if she loved him she 'wouldn't tell anybody,'" the detective told the court. "He told her that the last person he did it to told and he had to go to jail."

Shorter told the girl he would deny her allegations if she went to police, the detective added.

At the time of the alleged offenses, Shorter's studio was located in South Seattle. He later moved the business to Renton; he currently resides in Tacoma, according to court records.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor noted that Shorter was convicted of statutory rape in 1985 after he was caught having sex with a 12-year-old girl he met through a choir group. Spoor also told the court Shorter was charged and acquitted of having molested a 15-year-old girl in 1993.

Any potential victims in the case are urged to contact police at 684-5575.